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Employers are urged to use the 'club card' to convey the value of pensions

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Employers could learn from the supermarket 'club card' model when trying to communicate pensions with staff, HR staff have been told.

Speaking yesterday at the HR stream of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) Conference, held in partnership with HR magazine, Nigel Aston director, PensionDCisions, said: "In 1993, when the Tesco Clubcard came into circulation, the supermarket saw what staff were buying and began to understand which demographics needed and wanted which products.

"Before that, it was a case of ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’. Supermarkets knew what products were selling, but they didn’t know what their customers wanted."

"Nowadays pensions providers make funds, consultants sell them and employers implement them. But staff are the people who are buying them and buying power seems to have been ignored.

"Staff are not into pensions because it is something they think is done to them, rather than something they need to do – and think about."

Aston claimed pensions, as a brand, have become devalued.

He said: "Even if we could still afford defined-benefit pensions – it would not cut it in today’s world. If a pension is good for the employee, it will be good for the employer. A supermarket’s job is to stock what people want to buy – employers should be thinking along these lines.

"If not all staff value a pension, the benefit to the employer is not maximised. Pensions are important for some folk, but we need to generate that level of interest on a wider scale."